This morning in the studio I was sewing on a new art quilt with NPR news on in the background. As I stitched, I thought what a strange juxtaposition this was. Here, in my self-contained world, in a room in which I have a fair amount of control over outcomes, I am creating. Meanwhile, stories that are big and important, over which I have very little control are unfolding and being reported. Meaningful immigration debate has evaporated – at last for now – in a slew of ugly, racist words by the President. Other countries are reacting. A US ambassador has quit in protest. And the list of important issues facing our country remains a large stack of untouched “to-do’s” in the congressional inbox.
And I am merrily sewing along.
Each of us, as we go about our chosen work, is faced with this same juxtaposition and decisions about what to do.
After setting up this situation, I realize, of course, that I have no magic answer or prescription to offer. Living in a complex world is hard. Living in a country that allows tremendous freedoms along with tremendous responsibilities is hard. It is tempting to retreat entirely into the bubble of what I can control or what I enjoy. But it’s not a solution that would be right for me. Living so deeply in the world of external events that I become unable to create artwork would also not be right for me.
For now, I do what I believe most caring, thoughtful citizens do. I engage in the greater world to the best of my ability: as a volunteer, a giver of what money I can donate, a voter. And I continue to create work that is meaningful to me.
Is it enough? I feel the need to keep asking that question.